Advice

Harvey Weinstein Bails on Sex Rehab After a Week: "It Would Be Laughable" to Think He's Cured, Says Expert

This addiction therapist says he needs an intensive rehab program to understand his predatory behavior. 

Now that Harvey Weinstein has checked himself out an Arizona sex addiction rehab — after just one week — we can all assume he’s “cured” of his sexually predatory ways?

Not a chance.

The former Weinstein Co. boss stands accused of sexual harassment, rape, and bartering movie roles for sex, yet refused to check himself into a proper 30-day rehab center to deal with his many, many problems. He will likely be facing criminal charges in some of the cases with no statute of limitations, his wife has left him, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences expelled him, and his company has fired him. Safe to say he's at rock bottom. Yet, instead of taking his rehab program seriously, he shacked up in an Arizona hotel and only attended outpatient treatment for a week. That doesn't sound remorseful or self aware on any level.

According to TMZ, he joined just one group therapy session at the beginning of the week, then continued with a few private sessions with a therapist because he was concerned for his privacy. Although he will remain in Arizona for another month or so “to continue working with his doctors,” his intensive rehab is over. Over the seven days, Harvey reportedly dealt “with his anger, his attitude toward others, boundary work and the beginnings of work on empathy.”

“Beginnings” is right. According to New York-based addiction therapist Mordecai Salzberg, who specializes in dealing with sex addiction in patients, a person in need of serious help who spends just one week in rehab has a long road ahead.

“In terms of why six days is not sufficient to effect a cure, I would make two points. One, the disease model of addiction would make it by definition a chronic condition. Even for those skeptical about the disease model, it is certainly a chronic pattern of behavior, stemming from a distorted understanding and experience of intimacy and a pattern of maladaptive behaviors in relationships. There is no way psychologically or even neurologically that years' worth of pathways in the brain can be 'cured' in six days,” Salzberg tells Personal Space.

“Two, sex addiction in particular is believed to be an intimacy disorder. In effect it looks at the 'acting out' behaviors as coming from a fundamental and damaging (and often dangerous) perception of intimacy, relationships and sex, stemming from foundational experiences in relationships. While that approach brings with it deserved empathy for what are often the traumatic childhood experiences of sex addicts, it also means that in treatment they are in effect learning how to interact and connect with people for the first time. It would be laughable to think that can be learned in six days.”

Salzberg says that the 28-30 day rehab model is often designed from a pragmatic standpoint; based on financial considerations such as insurance companies as well as the reality of most people's lives and how much time they are prepared to go into treatment for, it was considered a decent amount of time.
“From my experience, for clients ready for treatment (and I've had clients who have all but begged for it when there were practical or financial barriers to going), 28-30 days can be a very powerful tool for healing and recovery,” he adds. “But that would mean that the critical first step of addiction treatment — breaking through the client's denial has been addressed.”

According to NPR, Marvin Ventrell, executive director of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers, has studied the 28-day model’s history. He says the month-long standard comes from the notion that when "someone is suffering from addiction — and in the days that this began, we're pretty much talking about alcoholism — it made sense to people that it took about four weeks to stabilize somebody…."It became the norm because the insurance industry was willing to pay for that period of time."

That time period soon spread to treating other forms of addiction.

As far as someone “resistant” checking into month-long treatment, often there are clients who are forced to go, usually by a spouse or family member — or the judicial system. But what to do if someone either doesn’t think they have a problem, or doesn’t want to invest the time to get better?

“I would counsel such a person to at least make peace with the fact that they are going into treatment and be open to the process,” Salzberg says. “I would also encourage them to be open about their skepticism so that they are at least engaging in an open dialogue which may lead to insight and often a breakthrough in denial. From my experience, I have seen clients who entered treatment reluctantly come to a turning point and make tremendous progress.”

Gentle Path at The Meadows in Wickenburg, Arizona, is a well-respected sex addiction center where over the course of 45 days, patients can expect to dive fully into recovery. Throughout the course of a day at their male sex addiction treatment program, a patient will attend a variety of lectures, workshops, therapies and treatments, in a combination of individual and group settings. There is a structured weekly schedule with time blocked out for all the different activities throughout each day. Before breakfast, patients exercise and shower. There is a regimented schedule of breakfast, followed by a daily meditation, peer meetings, and group therapy. During the week, patients participate in different group therapies and spirituality practices before lunch.

There’s more.

According to the center, the afternoon is filled with topic groups, appointments, fitness and recreational activities, and meetings with the senior fellows. Throughout the week, patients have the opportunity to attend different lectures and experiences, depending on their week in treatment. An eating wellness program is in place at all meals, allowing patients to join a designated table to focus on good eating habits and wellness, and to offer patients a chance to talk to the staff and peers. After dinner, independent time is followed by nightly meditation and 12-step programs.

So, as you can see, six days can hardly make a dent when you are suffering from serious problems.

“As far as why some people are less open, or more in denial, it may stem from a combination of factors including a lack of serious consequences thus far which allows them to rationalize that their behaviors aren't hurting themselves or anyone around them,” Salzberg says of patients who won’t surrender to the system. “It may also be that they are in such a high degree of pain that they are medicating themselves with the addiction — and that they are not ready to face that pain. It's important to note that at its core, addictive behaviors aren't so much the client's problem as they are the client's really, really bad solution to their problems.”

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